By J1 Reporter Lany Gregor
Even through COVID-19, Marian’s 2020-2021 basketball team is doing its part to stay safe. As the season quickly approaches, many players are working hard to start off hot this year.
“I am most excited to see my teammates,” sophomore Sophie Shaffer said. The season starts with tryouts on Nov. 16.
The team has been working hard to make its season happen. Not only are the athletes being careful with their pre-season training, but Marian’s strength and training coach, Coach Lauren Barefoot, takes time every night to clean the weight room to guarantee the health and safety of the team. Marian’s basketball team started its pre-season training of lifting, conditioning, and practices, with Coach Barefoot or Head Coach Peter Cunningham on June 2 with face masks and restrictions in place.
To further prepare for the season, the conditioning team partook in a virtual reality practice, on Oct. 22, using a Virtual Reality (VR) headset. This headset was called a neurotrainer. The team members were able to use them to practice while staying socially distant. A few basketball players met with Mrs. Melissa Brusnahan, the athletic trainer, and Sarah Anderson, Marian graduate of 2019. They spoke about the neurotrainer and how it could benefit them for the future.
“I thought it was super cool getting to see what it was like being in the virtual headset and testing out the different practice sessions,” junior Olivia Heinert said.
As Nov. 16 comes closer, it is important for students to encourage their friends in the basketball program. The team has been working tirelessly to guarantee their season will happen. It is not just up to the team to stay safe, but students outside of the program could make an impact on their season happening. “If you are able to come to the games, come, but, encourage the girls in the hallway, and watch live streams,” Coach Cunningham said.
The jamboree game kicks off the season on Saturday, Nov. 28 at home versus the Columbus Discoverers, but the first regular season game is on Thursday, Dec. 3 is at home against Grand Island. Fans can follow @marianbball on Twitter for the most up to date information on the season.
This season Marian is expecting 50 girls trying out. With that number in mind, Coach Cunningham plans to have Reserve, Junior Varsity and Varsity teams this year. With former assistant Coach Kent Bray retiring at the end of last season, this year’s coaching staff will include: Varsity Head Coach Peter Cunningham, Varsity Assistant Coach Jessica Abel, Varsity Assistant and Junior Varsity Head Coach Eric Thompson, Reserve Head Coach Kevin McGrath, and Reserve Assistant Coach Hannah Hennings. Hennings is new to the coaching staff as she became a paraprofessional at the school in August.
The coaches and players hope to see all Marian students able to go to games, but that may not be an option if everyone does not do their part. Every student at Marian can be part of the team even if they don’t make the team. Students may be encouraged to join, “to see the culture, to feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves because being in the crowd is an emotional connection,” said Coach Barefoot.